Turn the Porter-Klingle interchange into a park
The Klingle Valley trail project is focusing on building a trail, but it's also a great opportunity to reexamine the giant interchange to nowhere in the middle of Rock Creek parkland.
This interchange is massively overbuilt today. It was designed to shuffle cars between Porter Street, Beach Drive, and the now-nonexistent Klingle Road to the west. From satellite photos, it looks like a giant gash in an otherwise leafy expanse of parkland:
Porter Street is the visible road from the northwest to the southeast, while Beach Drive just appears as a dark line through the trees. Where the access road intersects busy Beach Drive, there is just a basic T-junction. That road then continues to Porter, but instead of a similarly-sized T-junction, we have six large ramps and two underpasses.
The current plan has the trail using part of the southernmost roadway (marked in green above) until it joins the Rock Creek trail. The roadway will remain open to cars for drivers coming from the handful of houses to the west.
But since no through traffic continues to the west, we shouldn't need this whole mess. Beach Drive gets by with a much simpler intersection. Why not turn the intersection of Porter and the road to Beach Drive into a regular T-junction as well? It could look something like this:
The road and underpass along the south (in green) would become a bicycles and pedestrian path only. The road and underpass in the north could become two-way for the cars going to the few houses on Klingle. The road that intersects Porter is already two-way, and cars heading east on Porter already turn across the intersection at grade to get to it.
The only change to traffic would be to have cars from that road going to Porter eastbound also turn across the intersection instead of looping under and back around. A stoplight could regulate those turns. Since the bottleneck on Porter is currently at the stoplights on either end, the small amount of delay from this extra movement shouldn't reduce the overall capacity of Porter Street. DDOT should certainly check that, however.
This change turns a lot of the land into usable park space. An even better arrangement would be to move that street toward the north, near the northern underpass. That would free up even more contiguous parkland by making all traffic to and from Beach Drive and the Klingle houses use the northern edge of the clearing, reserving the rest for recreation.
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